It’s Frustrating Being Frustrated

Every time I send out a query letter to a potential agent or publisher, I’m supposed to include in my bio, so ‘they’ say, my writing credentials. They are looking for previous publications and contests won (contests cost money to enter. Did you know that?) That’s what ‘they’ want. Most don’t even want a sample of the writing. Just a query letter containing a two paragraph synopsis and a bio.

Hmmm.

As Jeff says, “I got nothing for ya.” This is followed, about six weeks later, by a kind, well-written email (if they bother, it will be always be well-written) saying “I’m sorry but this is not what I’m looking for right now” or something to that affect. Even though I checked out their website, and made sure of exactly what genre they are looking for, or what they love to see and my book fills every single one.
Every. Single. One.
How do they know when they haven’t even read any of the actual book?

Th first time I ever saw my work printed and bound for distribution was in my junior high school yearbook (my artwork-those domed cities of the future are mine) and a few blurbs about students and clubs) which we, the yearbook committee, cranked out on a Gestetner copier and manually collated a few hundred copies.

Gestetner copy machine

Gestetner copy machine

Hectograph Gel copying

Hectograph Gel copying

They don’t want to hear that I put together, by myself, every week for several years, our tiny church’s Sunday program, including announcements, requests, and little tidbits of inspiration, still using a Gestetner barely smaller than the one we used at school. Sometimes I used a Hectograph gel tray but that was quite tedious as only a few copies can be made before renewing the transfer.

They don’t want to hear that I graduated from high school with an honors in English back when time and language were created, or that I dated Shakespeare. On second thought, maybe they’d like that part, but I promised him I wouldn’t tell anyone because of, you know, Anne Hathaway and the kids (his wife, not Kate and Gerald’s actress daughter!)

Should I include that screenplay a friend and I worked on in that same junior high school, when we created a new episode for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a popular new TV series? Oh, right. It was never published and who knows where it is now.

Short stories for school? Always got an “A” but, well, for now, it’s the same problem. Not published and let’s face it, teachers aren’t looking for bestsellers and if I submitted those primary and junior high school works of art now, I’d be laughed out of town and still unpublished!

They don’t want to hear that I always had to add extra postage to mail letters to family and friends because it was impossible for me to not tell the events in our lives as a story, and not just a fact-based letter. (Thank the Maker for emails! Still long but now free to send.)
My philosophy has always been if a story is worth telling, it’s worth telling well.

My mom’s nine-page eulogy? No, although it was ‘self-published’ by my dad and the booklet was presented, along with a memorial fund, to a seminary in Alberta.

When I wrote, it wasn’t for fame or a desire to be famous. I wrote for my own pleasure and the pleasure of the recipients. When I got my first computer (a business version of a Commodore 64) I made pictures with my Christmas letters using DOS commands. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ask your grandparents. My first masterpiece was a letter in the shape of a Christmas tree (a good way to limit the letter since I have admitted that I tend toward chatty missives!) I also had a Canada Flag shaped letter, the words filling in the red bars and central Maple Leaf. Try doing that today . . . never mind. It’s easy today. Just use a template. Suffice it to say I had to write out the commands, kind of like HTML, but more intense! It took me a lot of practice and self-teaching to master but it made it easy for me to learn HTML later!

Commodore Business (1984)

Commodore Business (1984)

Even when I penned (aka tapped it out on a keyboard) my first novel, it was completely cathartic and definitely not for others to see. The story of my life, starting in the third grade. Around chapter 14, when I caught up with the present day, and my life was completely unresolved, the story became a work of fiction. I went back through it, added, changed and made up events and conversations, created an even viler villain, and ended it with a completely fantastic and unrealistic ending. It was a great teaching piece. And I discovered that I loved writing fiction.

But they aren’t looking for that kind of writing credentials and of those they seek, I have none.

They are also looking for social media presence. Blog popularity: How many subscribers or followers do you have? How engaged are they?

My inner hermit screams.

I am not a social butterfly! I don’t post my everyday activities. My Facebook Author page has stuff on it not even related to my works because I have no news, no book signings, no sage wisdom or advice for other writers, no excerpts because my best excerpts would be complete spoilers!
Why isn’t my Facebook page more popular?
Because I am not published yet! The only thing I am an expert on at this stage is being the unknown author of an unpublished best seller!
And don’t even get me started about Twitter. What am I going to say in 149 characters including spaces? Short and sweet? Never heard of it! (See previous admission of being talkative even in my writing.)
Tried it tweeting daily diary and journal entries from Ana and Caleb to garner some interest. Even that was hard with 149 characters, but I persevered. No spoilers, of course, but no one ever commented. No one even noticed when I stopped posting them. Those who do follow me on Twitter, with a very few exceptions, do so only in the hopes I follow them and boost their massive numbers!

Blogging is more fun than tweeting, to me, at least, but it not the same as writing a compelling story which keeps the reader turning pages and gets them crying and staying up late to read just ‘one more chapter.’ Blogging doesn’t make you fall in love with or hate a figment of my imagination; it doesn’t kill off characters and make you cry. Okay, some blogs make you cry, but it’s almost always for a different type of reason.

I fail to understand how my ability (or rather lack of ability) to rack up high numbers of followers (on Facebook or this blog or on Twitter for a book which no one has heard of because it isn’t published) relates to my ability to turn out some freakishly awesome stories with characters that are fleshed out to the Nth degree! (Thank you, beta readers, for your truthful and uplifting comments and criticisms which allow me to state that as a simple fact.)

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get Facebook followers for my Author page and I’ve cried a lot of virtual tears over ‘no one ever reads or subscribes or shares or comments on my posts.’ (** If you are reading this, I don’t know you’ve seen it unless you post some feedback. **)

So Please Read. Comment. Share. Like. Don’t stop doing this . . .

The Crystal Box

The Crystal Box

And going forward . . .

Recently, I’ve been in communication with a company (referred by my editor) who takes your book proposal and presents it on their website to attract not only publishers but readers who would like to pre-order the book! I’m almost ready to submit my proposal for their approval. I’m really excited to do this. Preparing the proposal application is way more detailed than I thought it would be so I’m having to gather information which I didn’t have already, such as providing the STATISTICS on why I think my intended audience (new adult, i.e. those just entering adulthood, and older) is, in fact, my audience.

Stay tuned!! Be assured that I’ll be posting about it if they accept my proposal.

Would you be interested in pre-ordering a copy of my book?

Please comment yes or no and the reason for your answer.

This will help me know how to proceed as I need to be able to answer this question: “Are you confident in your book idea and being able to presell 250 copies?”

I say YES!

Am I right?

 

They said I need to go somewhere . . .

I work for an airline, booking flights and helping our guests as they join tens of thousands more guests trekking back and forth across North and Central America every single day.

I hear all about the beautiful weather, the bad weather, the flawless flights and the flawed flights. The beaches and the mountains, cloudless days and star-studded nights. Meeting new friends and rekindling old friendships. You name it, I’ve heard it.

So now, I have eleven days off work. The world is at my fingertips. “Where are you going to go?” my coworkers asked on my last day. After all, the first thing most people who work in the travel industry do when they have a good chunk of time off, is take a trip SOMEWHERE. At the end of March, Calgary still has six weeks of possible, and probable, snow. Cancun, Hawaii, Aruba, St. Maartens. These places do not expect snow.

Yes, it would be fun to take in some of the sights, to dangle my feet in an ocean. But at the destination of each of those flights, there are hotels, restaurants, tours, souvenirs. All these things take money. And money is the last thing I need to be spending frivolously. I looked into the possibilities. If I did go ‘somewhere,’ it would have to be a one day trip (no hotels.) What did I want to do when I got there? That’s easy. Pull out the computer and write. Edit. Rewrite. Find an agent.

So I compromised. I dug through photos of great times past, and came up with the perfect solution.

Budget Beach, AB

Budget Beach, Alberta

The beach scene in the background is Laguna Beach, CA, taken in 1993 on my first trip to Southern California. The trees are in Los Angeles somewhere near City Hall from a 1997 trip, my third trip to Disneyland. The wine glass (yes, it lights up) is from a daughter’s fantastic one-week-to-plan-it backyard wedding in 2007 although the drink pictured was new which my granddaughter enjoyed after I took the picture (I don’t like raspberry ginger ale but it looked nice in the glass with a dash of orange juice and a strawberry. I couldn’t find my little drink umbrellas!) The sand is from our stash on the porch that we use on the icy sidewalks, just to remind me what I’m “missing,” not that we have ice on the sidewalks right now but it’s a symbolic thing. I considered sprinkling sand on my bedroom floor so I could squish my toes in it, but common sense and my daughter both said no. Those are, however, my toes, which you can see have had a virtual pedicure to go with the virtual manicured thumb. To complete my basement beach experience, my space heater blows a nice warm breeze over me while a tranquil nature CD produces the ambience of waves breaking on a beach with seagulls screeching on the wind.

I can even ‘go to the spa’ because my office chair has a massage function.

And now, without spending a dime, I can play on my computer and end up in the same wonderful (albeit imaginary) worlds I would be in if I were, in fact, on a real life beach, without the sun glare on my screen and the worry of salt and sand getting into the ports. Knowing me, though, I probably wouldn’t have even left the air-conditioned and secluded hotel room!

What can I say? I write fiction . . . I make up my own worlds!

Share some of your favorite vacation memories so I can pretend I’m sitting on the beach with you, enjoying a wonderful conversation with a friend!

Cheers!

Pilgrimage to Flagstaff Part 1

Last week definitely produced some high points of my literary experience.

On Monday, I hopped on a plane taking me from Calgary, Alberta, to Phoenix, Arizona.

The original reason for the trip was to visit with my sister. She lives in West Texas but was attending a convention in Phoenix. And WestJet flies to Phoenix so I could easily get there on a three hour direct flight vs a five hour flight with a one to three hour layover in Dallas or Houston. While she was busy in classes and meetings during the day, I was planning to have some time to myself. I would have loads of time to write, write, and perhaps get in a little writing.

Then it dawned on me . . .

I was going to be a mere 2-½ hours drive from Flagstaff, Arizona, the starting point (as it stands now) for my series. I’ve stalked the town and the university for years, seeking information, images, and maps on the internet. I had a sketchy memory of Flagstaff from a quick visit in 1986, but that was a long time ago and I was not paying attention to the university back then.

Old Main - 1899 NAU

Old Main – 1899 NAU

I’m sure my brother-in-law was pointing out things since he went to NAU waaaaaaaay before that trip. Don’t get me wrong. He’s not really that old.

The school was founded in 1899 so it was sometime after that. The campus may have looked like this when he went there. I don’t know.

6 miles above the Grand Canyon, maybe 7 since it’s a mile deep! (Click all pictures for the full image.)

The thought also crossed my mind that if I go to Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon is only 2 or 3 hours further north, but decided I wouldn’t want to rush seeing the Canyon, so I put that idea aside. (The man sitting next to me on the plane told me that we would be flying over the Grand Canyon, which lasted maybe two minutes, so I ended up rushing that trip anyway, but it was pretty cool to see from six miles up!)

Suddenly, I realized my trip to Arizona was not going to be a touristy type of writing retreat after all. I was going to be doing research! This is where it all began. Caleb met Ana there! My dear sister doesn’t understand why this got me all excited and she was going to see first hand how crazy life is when everything around you inspires scenes in your imaginary world. (In retrospect, I’m not sure she gets it yet. She may just think I’m crazy.)

I became enchanted with the palms, and the cacti, and the jagged hills rising in sharp contract from the flat valley floor on which rests the sprawling city of Phoenix.

Stunning sunset from the veranda on the top floor of the hotel.

Stunning sunset from the veranda on the top floor of the hotel.

The very first evening in Phoenix, I saw something that made me change a part of the story. Okay, Karen and Caralee, don’t panic. I’m only moving one scene from LA to Phoenix, because 1) I’ve never actually SEEN the place in LA except on street view maps, and 2) This is what I saw . . .

When I witnessed this sunset, I fell in love. Not with someone. I just fell in Love. I would not have been surprised if Zorro landed on the veranda to whisk Elena away. I knew at that moment, this was where the LA scene had to take place. I have to research and rewrite a few things, maybe a chapter or two at most, but since I now have the intense emotional attachment to this, it will be phenomenal.

And so ends my first night in Phoenix. Tomorrow, the trip to Flagstaff!

Stay tuned for Part 2, the next leg of my journey in Arizona.

The End of Another Summer…

August-2013-Calendar-BIRD

Wow…Where has the time gone? This is the last single digit day of the summer of 2013. The kids still have three weeks left, but I don’t.

Next week, I head off to Kansas City to watch the graduation ceremony which will turn my SIL into Doctor Dan. Then it’s a quick turnaround and back to Calgary by Monday. And then, a week later, I start a new job.

Intense training ahead. I’m looking forward to it…sort of. I mean, it sounds like an exciting job, but let’s face it, I was a SAHM for too many years to really appreciate the career aspect of life. And there’s the books…

I’ve been off work for four months which has given me lots and lots of time to work on the manuscripts. In fact, I’ve just discovered that there is a whole new book in-between numbers 3 and 4. OMG. Really? This isn’t a manuscript that I’m splitting like when I chopped the first manuscript into two separate books and had the opportunity to fine tune the story. This is a completely new story. Granted, it incorporates the backstory told in the “4th” book and it will change the beginning of said book, but it goes oh-so-much deeper, really pulling out what happened in the space between 3 and 4. I am so excited about incorporating the ideas that suddenly started cramming into my head!

I was wondering how I would ever have enough material to make another book using the same characters. But there it was. I just had to ask the right questions, look under the right rock, and listen to those small voices that keep me entertained.

Are you reading the diaries? Here’s the link again…triquetra00

Someone dropped the Ball!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything for a month! It’s not like I haven’t been on the computer every single day! I have been!

I got really involved with a new project on a new Twitter account…not quite ready for the public yet. These are entries from the diaries of Ana and Caleb.
Sorry. It’s Ana’s diary and Caleb’s journal (because guys don’t do diaries!)

I’ve had lots of fun creating the images for the site, and the growing list of entries! It’ll be fun to see what’s going on in the day-to-day lives of these two people. It’s helping me to learn more about these characters and who they really are.

diary avatar

 

 

 

One of these days, I’ll leak them out. Just trying right now to keep my writing from being “previously published.”